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  • Dear Readers!

    Once again another successful year is drawing to a close for our family-run company. This sentence, or one similar, can be read really quite often. In our case, a look back at the editorial of our 2018 Christmas issue might bring on a smile. Exactly one year ago, we spoke of the great business opportunities in both the recycling industry and the transport sector. At the time, we wrote in our editorial: “We have been able to make the most of these opportunities by taking steps to acquire DSD – Duales System Deutschland GmbH (and to purchase shares in Transdev). Both transactions must still be approved by the relevant authorities.”

    As we know today, twelve months on, the acquisition of shares in the Transdev Group worked out perfectly while the other – DSD – has, at least for the time being, been blocked by the German monopolies commission. Having assessed the packaging recycling market last year, we believed that DSD did not have a dominant market position – something that has been further underlined by the latest developments. The customer structure within the Dual System has changed dramatically since the Schwarz Group became, practically overnight, one of the five largest recycling companies after taking over Tönsmeier and expanding into the packaging market with its renamed firm, PreZero. REWE, one of the three biggest distributors of sales packaging in Germany, has changed its Dual System provider and moved to Reclay. And, on 19 November, a press release was published in the media that Aldi has also changed its provider and is now licensing its packaging with Interseroh instead of DSD. It will be interesting to see if and to what extent these latest developments will impact on the Regional Appeal Court’s ruling.

    Looking at the world of politics, 2019 has ended with the German government bringing out a concrete climate action package. The recycling industry, which has played a major – if not decisive – role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions since the introduction of the TaSi [Technical Directive on the Recycling, Treatment and Disposal of Municipal Waste] in 2005, is rubbing its eyes in disbelief having read the 22 pages. A mere 16 lines have been devoted to our industry. Perhaps they are already simply taking the positive impact we have on tackling climate change for granted? It is probably more likely that they continue to underestimate the potential of recycling to combat climate change. And there is still so much unused potential. Were the substitution rate, i.e. the share of recycled raw materials used in industrial production processes, to be doubled from the current 15% to 30%, then this alone would lead to emissions of CO2 equivalents being cut by around 60 million tonnes. The fact remains that comprehensive recycling measures will enable the climate goals to be met. Indeed, REMONDIS shows that this is possible every single day.

    With this optimistic outlook, I would like to thank you all for your great support and collaboration over the last twelve months. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful 2020.

    Yours Ludger Rethmann

Protecting the recycling infrastructure

  • Fire safety and fire prevention are, quite literally, a hot topic. More and more people are talking about the potential danger of both lithium ion batteries and contaminants such as aerosol cans and tins of paint as they considerably increase the risk of a fire breaking out. One of REMONDIS’ top priorities is to protect its recycling infrastructure against fires – and not just since the number of fires faced by the industry has increased so significantly. Working closely with TSR, REMONDIS’ regional Rhineland branch has now brought out a fire safety catalogue for the whole of the REMONDIS Group in order to make fire prevention easier for the staff and managers across the whole of the network.

A great responsibility

Efficient fire prevention and firefighting equipment is particularly important at industrial businesses handling flammable substances. With the recycling sector treating a whole range of materials, from paper to plastics and metals, to liquid industrial residue, it has a responsibility to ensure the country’s recycling infrastructure remains intact – for its own sake as well as for others. All too often, however, recycling plants find themselves having to tackle fires.

It is essential to have the right firefighting equipment if a fire is to be put out quickly.

“Every fire is small when it starts,” explained Carsten Koch, head of fire safety at REMONDIS Rhineland. “The first steps that are taken to tackle a fire are absolutely crucial. And these can only be effective if you have the right equipment.” Being an experienced firefighter and long-standing member of the Lippe Plant’s fire station in Lünen, he knows all about this subject. “You have to look at the specific requirements of the business you’re running to be able to decide what equipment you need to buy and these are often very different to the equipment used by local fire brigades.”

“The first steps that are taken to tackle a fire are absolutely crucial. And these can only be effective if you have the right equipment.”

Carsten Koch, Head of Fire Safety at REMONDIS Rhineland

Conventional fire extinguishers not enough for the industry

He decided, therefore, to take a closer look at this subject to make it easier for REMONDIS’ different business locations to get hold of the right equipment. Cooperating closely with TSR, he has put together a catalogue containing all modern – and in some cases very specialised – firefighting equipment. This catalogue not only includes fire extinguishers, foam extinguishers, fire hoses, couplings and jet and spray branch pipes but also a wide range of devices for protecting the environment during a fire. “Capturing the water used to fight the flames both during and after a fire is always a sensitive subject,” Carsten Koch continued. Which is why the catalogue also offers a selection of binding agents, covers, mobile firewater barriers, collection tanks and water pumps that can handle foreign objects up to 65mm in size. One item in the catalogue has already caught the attention of many people because of its amusing name: the famous GullyEi [drain egg] – a standard piece of equipment used by many businesses in the Rhineland region for sealing drains in the event of a fire or emergency. “By offering such a wide range of specialist equipment, this easy-to-use catalogue provides the managers in charge with a large selection of tools, enabling them to react quickly and effectively should a fire break out,” Carsten Koch concluded with a confident smile. “It goes without saying that it also contains personal protective equipment.”

The REMONDIS Group’s own fire safety catalogue

  • All of the articles have been tried and tested in the field. Anything that was unable to cope with the high standards was excluded from the catalogue. “I’ve personally tested all of the equipment at least once,” Carsten Koch said proudly. “In some cases, several tests had to be carried out on the different kinds of firefighting foam and fire extinguishers.” The catalogue is going to be regularly updated and adapted to REMONDIS’ changing needs. “We will always find ourselves having to tackle new challenges – such as the droughts and high temperatures we’ve had over the last few years. Last year, for example, we put together a water mist system for cooling screening material and containers. And let’s not forget the growing problem we’re having to face with lithium batteries being thrown away into the wrong bin,” he added. Tests are currently being carried out on a water mist-gel extinguisher – an idea thought up by Carsten Koch – and the results have been promising so far. There is no other extinguisher like it on the market for lithium batteries. “The water mist stifles the acid fumes and gases caused by the fire and extinguishes the flames. The gel cools the cells preventing the fire from spreading.” Fire blankets for stackers and containers are also being tested at the moment. Electric stackers are covered with the blanket during the loading process to extinguish the flames should a fire break out as well as to prevent them from spreading. “Tests are currently being carried out in the lab to confirm the effectiveness of the blanket in putting out fires caused by lithium ion batteries independent of any particular manufacturer. Such a product could be used in a whole host of situations. Containers used for storing highly flammable substances or materials prone to self-ignite could, for example, be covered with such a blanket to prevent fires breaking out or spreading,” Carsten Koch commented, looking ahead into the future. Other bigger tests are being conducted as well.

    The catalogue provides all of REMONDIS’ branches with the best possible overview and maximum cost control.

    Over the last few months, a variety of tests have been performed on an “extinguisher turbine” that has a system similar to that of a snow cannon. Equipped with infrared technology for early fire detection and a mixing system for extinguishing foam, this “turbine” is a perfect fire extinguisher that can discharge a wide range of extinguishing materials (from water mist to a solid stream) and, if necessary, from a great distance.

    A special water mist-gel extinguisher is currently being developed to combat the growing problems the industry is having to face with lithium batteries

Optimised costs included

Fire prevention also involves getting work groups together to take a close look at the subject of safety, something the team around Carsten Koch are more than happy to do. “It’s really important that we get to hear people’s feedback, suggestions and wishes. For the catalogue to be a success, we need our colleagues to pass on their first-hand experiences with the equipment and to let us know their exact requirements,” he stressed. What’s more, the catalogue is a good business tool. The purchasing department regularly holds price negotiations with the manufacturers and analyses the sales figures. The catalogue, therefore, offers two major advantages: it increases safety standards in the area of fire prevention and improves cost control at the same time.

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